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Opinion: Do We Overrate Our Youngsters?

It seems to always be the case that we think the world of out youngsters, but are they really all that?

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The not as recent as it was when I started this sale of Tyler Garratt to League Two Doncaster Rovers and Oscar Threlkeld also returning to that level with Plymouth Argyle got me thinking about this. Both of these players were held in high regard by the fans, and I for one was of the opinion that they could have both done a job for us in League One next season. But the fact that both of them have ended up in League Two perhaps undermines this view.

Also recently released Naill Maher is (to the best of my knowledge and at the time of writing) yet to find himself a new club.

This is not by any means a new development. Chris Basham who was also held in high regard by the Bolton Wanderers fan base has fallen down the divisions since leaving Bolton ending up in the same league as us with Sheffield United.

Of course there are players at the other end of the spectrum. The most obvious is Rob Holding who finally secured his move to Arsenal and has been putting in some good performances in pre-season.

There is also Jamie Thomas who has polarised fan opinion in recent years and since being released has rocked up at Burnley. It’s clearly too soon to see if this works out for him, it may not and those who doubted him may be proved right especially in light of his loan move to Scotland. On the other hand it may work out and he may become the player his potential suggested he could have been.

Then there is the man who Holding surpassed as the leading academy graduate Zach Clough. For various reasons he had a difficult second season in the first team and that does not diminish his potential at all. But the only club reported to have a made a solid bid for him are Bristol City. Sure it was reported that Manchester United were interested and I’ve seen reports of Swansea City being interested but no bid means those links are somewhat irrelevant. If he really does have the potential we all think he has then you could argue someone a little better may have tried to take a punt on him by now.

By saying all this I am not trying to say I think that Bolton’s youngsters are bad players. Whether bigger clubs are interested or not Clough is our most talented attacking player for example. But do I think we overhype our youngsters was the point of this article and I do.

It is understandable. Being one of our own endears them to the fan base and that is right and proper. Young local lads breaking through is what football is meant to be about, it’s part of the romance of sport. But it does not change the fact we rate the youngsters more highly than we perhaps should.